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Introduction

Moving to the Channel Islands as a Newly Qualified Lawyer

Moving to the Channel Islands as a Newly Qualified Lawyer

Moving to the Channel Islands as a Newly Qualified Lawyer

Each year there are multiple opportunities in Jersey and Guernsey for NQ lawyers who have trained in a good commercial law firm. These roles are with some of the best offshore law firms in the world and they offer an unbeatable combination of high quality work, City level income and a genuine work-life balance. Should this be on your radar?  Below we look at the many advantages of making the move as well as a couple of potential reasons why it might not be for you.  

“The quality of the work here is much higher than in my previous role; higher value deals, higher value clients” (NQ – September 2015)

Quality of Work

The firms hire top-class lawyers because they do top-class work. Jersey & Guernsey are world class financial centres and the law firms advise on the offshore elements of the same major cross-border transactions/cases that you would find in any large City or international law firm.

Type of Work

You will advise on smaller elements of a far greater number of deals/cases.  The challenge is juggling multiple, often varied and complex matters. It suits lawyers who enjoy a fast pace of work rather than the lengthier matters that are more typical onshore. 

Team

The leading Channel Islands law firms are staffed by lawyers who have credentials every bit as strong as those in your average City law firm – indeed, many of them come from that background. You will be working far more closely with, and learning from, some of the very best.

Responsibilities

You will get more responsibility and client contact, and you will get it far earlier than is typical onshore. Teams are smaller and they lack the multiple layers of Senior Associates and Partners that exist in a larger firm. This is a place for someone who is able and willing to progress quickly.

City Level Net-Salaries

NQ salaries in the Channel Islands are in the region of £55k - £60k per annum and subject to a maximum tax rate of only 20%.  A gross salary of £60k in Guernsey, for example, will provide roughly the same net pay as a salary of £69k on the mainland.  That’s more than a 2015/16 Freshfields NQ!

Genuine Work-Life Balance

Of course there can be the occasional late night or weekend telephone call but these are the exception.  Lawyers in the elite Channel Islands firms work hard but have a far greater degree of control over their practice.  It’s quite normal for offices to be almost empty by 6.30pm.

Career Prospects

The experience you gain in the Channel Islands will carry you a long way. The major offshore firms are growing globally and so the route to Partnership is every bit as clear as onshore. Whether it is the Caribbean or Bermuda, Hong Kong or Singapore or even back to London, options will abound.  

Lifestyle

A relaxed coastal lifestyle with great beaches and beautiful scenery make it ideal for water-sports, sailing or cliff-top walks. A friendly, social culture means that you will have ample opportunity to enjoy the many high-end restaurants and bars. For a change, the French coast is just a daytrip away. 

“I’m doing better work, earning more money and going home earlier. I’m very happy here!” (NQ – September 2015)

As another 2015 NQ said when we spoke three months after he had made his move to Guernsey, “I really thought it was too good to be true!”  But can it really be this good? For the right person, yes, but notwithstanding the attractions, this move is not for everyone.

In the spirit of providing a measured view on life as a lawyer in the Channel Islands, below are some potential drawbacks.

Type of Work

As noted above, you advise on a smaller element of a greater number of matters. Most lawyers enjoy this immensely but if you are someone who thrives on being at the centre of things, you may find it difficult ceding responsibility for running the matter to an onshore firm.

Bright Lights

Guernsey and Jersey have their fair share of things to do but they are a far cry from city life. If you thrive on the fast pace of life and your interests revolve around the latest gallery or restaurant opening, it could be that you find island life a little too slow.

Commitment

Nobody expects you, especially at a junior level, to sign up for life. However, the firms are not there to provide a short-term stepping stone to a big-firm job in London either – if you really want to be in London, we’d recommend applying for a job in London!

Social Pariah…

Worried about being investigated by The Guardian for escaping to a low-tax island hideaway?  Don’t be…they’re at it too according to The Spectator! (http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/a-big-hand-for-the-two-faced-tax-hacks-of-the-guardian/)

To discuss this further please contact Jason Horobin on +44 (0)20 7096 1681 or at [email protected] 

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